Amazon Book Ads – A Remarkable Case Study Reveals Untapped Potential

ams-for-books

Guest Post by the talented Michal Stawicki

About a year ago, Kindlepreneur posted an article teaching authors how to setup Amazon ads for their books.

In the article, Dave said that while the Amazon ads system showed promise, it still had some problems that Amazon needed to fix. However, once that happened, those who learned how to use Amazon’s Marketing Services (AMS) and were the first to enter this market would reap the greatest benefit.

Well, that time is now. Fully revised, the new AMS service has low competition and shows major signs of being a profitable marketing tactic for books.

So, what is AMS?

This system allows you to place an advertisement of your book alongside other books in Amazon. Basically, you can set up advertisements that get your book in front of more Amazon shoppers.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll show you, plus I’ll give you some tips that can help you get started immediately.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What happened with my books because of AMS
  • Lessons learned and pitfalls to the system
  • Ways to increase your Amazon Advertising ROI

But Before You Jump In

If you’re new to AMS or have been doing it for a while, I highly recommend you check out Dave’s article on Book Advertisements, and take Kindlepreneur’s FREE AMS Advertisements for Books course. It’s jam packed with enough content and over the shoulder videos that will show not only learn about AMS, but be able to create profitable AMS campaigns.

So, get access to my full free video course on AMS Advertisements for books by clicking the button below.
Click To Get Access!

It is assumed that for the rest of the this article you have a basic understanding of AMS, and so I’ll continue by discusssing my AMS campaign as a casestudy to help further the understanding of what can be accomplished through AMS book ads, and also some areas I think authors should be aware of.

Amazon Marketing Services Case Study

Okay, now let’s jump right into the good stuff. What did my run of AMS do for my book sales?

Let’s start with my bestseller, The Art of Persistence. Published in April 2015, it had a pretty solid launch, but unlike most of my books, it has continued to sell fairly consistently since.

Below is a picture of my sales, and the green line represents when I started to do the AMS ads.

art-of-persistence-ams-sales-data

Not bad considering my sales doubled after implementing the AMS ads.

For this next one though, let’s look at a book that had an amazing launch, but sales quickly died off after I stopped doing all the book site promotions and marketing hustle. I published Trickle Down Mindset in January 2015.

trickle-mindset-book-sales-ams-data

It’s not exactly making me rich…but you can clearly see that AMS brought a dead book back to life.  I’ll call that a victory.

All in all, I had 6 different campaigns, and AMS helped to increase book sales at varying degrees.

Yeah, But Did You Make Any Money?

Like with all advertising, it costs money to get your book ad in front of more shoppers. So, did I actually make any money or did I spend more than I made?

That answer is simple…yes, but it didn’t start that way.

When I started, I made a lot of costly mistakes that ate into my bottom line. Here are a couple:

1. Keyword Selection

No, not the Kindle keywords that Dave Chesson always goes off on…I mean the keywords you want your advertisement to show up for. These are incredibly important for the success of your campaign. Therefore, when you’re looking at your keywords, here are my recommendations:

  • Amazon’s suggestions aren’t worth much so don’t rely on them.
  • It’s better to target Author names and book titles that are closely related to your book – aka your competitors – instead of descriptive words.
  • Start with at least 300 keywords before you start your campaign – Yes, you read that right…300.

2. Budget it right

It’s easy to get carried away when seeing a direct effect between your ads and you getting more sales. However, don’t let it get away from you. On the other hand, though, I recommend you set up at least a monthly ads budget of $90 per book per month.  This will be enough to help you acquire decent data, without losing lots of money in the process.

3. Track the cost metrics every day:

Make snapshots of data every day, preferably at midnight, because KDP’s and Create Space’s reporting periods are from midnight to midnight PCT. (I admit I have it easy, PCT midnight in my timezone is 9:00 am.)

Capturing data every day will give you trends. You will not only know the total expenses, clicks, and impressions, but also how they were yesterday, a day before, and a week ago.

4. Know the profitability of each sale

The only way you can figure out if you are breaking even in your ads expenditure is by ACTUALLY knowing how much money you make per sale. And, the biggest mistake most new authors to AMS make is that they interpret Amazon’s “Est. Total Sales” as their profit…but it isn’t – and no, Amazon doesn’t report your profit which is sort of sneaky of them.

Remember, after the sale of a book, Amazon takes their 30% or 70% depending on your price.  Plus, they also take that cursed downloading fee as well. And if you live in a country where Amazon does tax withholdings, don’t forget that either. I live in Poland and because of that, Amazon withholds an extra 10% and I still have to pay taxes to Poland on that income as well.

So, the real danger appears when authors think they made $100 due to reading the Est. Total Sales in their AMS dashboard, but in truth, they only gained $44 in profit. This could lead authors to believe they are making money from their AMS campaign, but in truth, they are losing money.

To help me with this, so that I don’t lose track of what is really “profitable,” I track all of those metrics in a Google sheet. Of course, I guesstimate how many copies were purchased from ads and how many were organic, but it really helps.

You MUST Have a Paperback for This to Work

The profit margins for paperbacks are usually much better than with kindle only. Therefore, if you offer paperbacks as well as kindle, you stand to make more money from your ads.

Plus, with two different versions of your book (paperback and kindle), you have a better chance of a sale – because there are still some people that won’t do the kindle thing and need the feel of paper on their fingers…I can relate.

Therefore, with the increase of potential profits by having your book in both paperback and kindle, you can spend more on advertising and take more risks. With the increase in the margins, you can now target specific authors with an especially valuable audience and spend more to acquire their clicks. However, with Kindle only versions, especially if they are priced low, you simply don’t have such flexibility and your profitability is endangered.

Therefore, by also offering a paperback of your book, you stand to make more money from the AMS sale. This, in turn, improves your break even point.

So, What’s Next?

Right now, using Amazon’s Ad system to sell your book is pretty profitable. There isn’t much competition, so therefore, the cost you have to pay per click of your advertisement is pretty low.

This simple ads system can help you:

  • Revive a book of yours that isn’t making sales
  • Increase sales of any of your books
  • Help you get discovered
  • Increase your email optins, if your book has an optin offer
  • Improve your Amazon Best Seller Rank, which increases your Category rank

And a whole lot more…

 

However, instead of spending money and making mistakes, I’d highly recommend you take Dave’s free AMS course and learn all the different aspects to AMS. It’s an incredible opportunity, and knowledge is power (and money) when it comes to advertising systems like AMS.

AMS-Book-Advertisement-Course

 

About the Author: Michal Stawicki

michal-sta

Michal spends his days in IT and moonlights as a writer, but he hopes one day to turn his writing into a full-time passion. He lives in Poland with his wife and three kids.

He writes about personal development methods based on his personal experience. If you are looking for concrete strategies, you will find them in his books. Check out his blog, where he shares his superfast outlining process for non-fiction books (direct download, no opt-ins) and other resources for authors:http://expandbeyondyourself.com/outlining/

About Dave Chesson

When I am not fighting dragons or chasing the bogey man out of my kids closet, I like using my previous Online Optimization skills to help other authors with the 'technical' stuff and get the right authors to the top of Amazon and any other eBook service out there.

  • I wrote this post almost a month ago. Since then, I’ve got some shockingly good results with 3 new campaigns for my old books. See the screens. And I sold 51 paperback copies for those 3 books in 8 days. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c88edbc4989dfe1d2e5178129c4b7323bfd1cc79f31395cddbf14325e3ef8bc9.png

    • Haha…yeah, we’ve got just about six months of content already made. One month waiting…we definitely fast tracked it 😛

  • dandollars

    Thanks for this great update. I will now try this out. I guess I should test with books that are not doing well enough and leave the one that already sell plus 5 daily?

    Thanks bro

    • Not exactly, it works for all. See below my 3 screenshots. The first book, A Personal Mission Statement, was selling about 1-2 copies per day. It sold 33 copies in November and 63 copies in the first 9 days of December with ads.
      If I were you, I would invest in books that had good launches and died out in the first place, but I wouldn’t neglect solid books as well.

  • I love Amazon ads! My best results have been with ridiculously simple interest based ads. Was actually able to boost my book to #1 in a decent category. When are the details and “how to’s” comin for this post? Thanks!

    • Censorship cut it out 😉
      My post included some ‘how to’, but it was all over the place, so Dave left the meat: case studies, tracking metrics and paperbacks.

  • SciFi_Fantasy Girl

    Yes, looking forward to the webinar next week with all the nuts and bolts of this! Thanks for another timely and interesting article!

    • Seriously? Hmm, hmm, some food for thoughts…

  • newsrants

    I have 1 ad each for 5 books now with only $3 day (but ads don’t use that much) and I see a trickle of sales. I have 50 keywords. Have no idea how to come up with 300! But I will go back and ad author names and book titles.

    • Amen. Authors and titles are 80% of my keywords.
      I got also good results from common words (you, yours, from and so on), but I bid them very low. They are not relevant so got plenty of clicks and little sales.

  • Amit

    How much is the cost per click on average for non fiction book?

    • It depends on the keyword and its competitiveness.

    • And of course on how high you are willing to bid.
      Average from my 20 campaigns varies from 16 cents to 4 cents.
      Admiteddly I aim for cheaper keywords in my recent campaigns. The last 12 campaigns are between 4 and 6 cents.

  • Jon Galt

    Great stuff.. loving the ideas and all signed up 🙂
    Do you have any benchmarks for
    1) clicks per impressions
    2) ACoS

    Be very interested (ball parks would be good) for non-fictions books 🙂

    Jon

    • It’s rather impressions per click, the other way around the result is in percentiles and it’s hardly readable.
      I have anywhere from 1,00 to 3,900 imps/click
      But it doesn’t mean much. I have a book that has 2,275 and 3,016 and still gave me over $100 profit in first 9 days of December.
      My worst ACoS is 63% (and I paused this campaign). My best one is 11.38%. My rule of thumb is that ACos50%

  • Thanks Michal. I saw your post on Facebook and implemented 2 campaigns for my book. Why 300 keywords? And why author/title keywords rather than the basic search terms that people will enter?

    • It’s much easier to find them. You simply browse through Amazon bestsellers pages and harvest top books/ authors/ and books with most reviews.
      If you have any decent keword research tool for Amazon (hmmm, what’s this rocket in the right panel?), use it.
      I target common words and they can be profitable.
      In general the more keywords the better. In the end Amazon will decide which keywords are relevant and which are not, so if you put only 100, and Amazon decided 89 of them aren’t relevant, they will get 0 impressions and your whole campaign will be based on the 11 keywords that left.

      • Thanks. Do you use ‘Product Display’ ads off the best-selling books, or only use them as keywords in ‘Sponsored Products’?

        • Only ‘sponsored’. I firmly believe in “If it works, don’t fix it” so I don’t experiment with ‘product display’

      • Indica Snow

        “In the end Amazon will decide which keywords are relevant and which are not, so if you put only 100, and Amazon decided 89 of them aren’t relevant, they will get 0 impressions and your whole campaign will be based on the 11 keywords that left.”

        How do you know if Amazon has decided if keywords are relevant or not? The lack of info on my AMS dashboard is making this process difficult…

        • Simply by the amount of impressions. The irrelevant keywords will get very few to none.

  • I have had modest success with my campaigns, but 3/4 of my sales are paperback (lower margin) than Kindle.

    • 3/4 is a bit extreme, do you have high priced Kindle versions? But, yes, advertising affects all versions and of course you cannot control the ratio.
      My Kindles are for $2.99, so I actually prefer paperback sales.
      In my case it’s about 66/33 Kindle/paperback.

      • My Kindle is $7.99 and paperback is $12.99 so go figure.

  • Thanks for the great primer on this. I’ve taken immediate action on one book to start conservatively. The ad was approved in just a few hours.

    Since the book has historically done very well (ranked in the top 3 for over 6 months when it was first released), I’m hoping it will do well. It has print and audio editions and all editions are optimized to bring traffic home.

    • Anthony, you are an action taker!
      From your description it sounds like you have everything in place to succeed with ads.

      • I’m certainly going to give it my best. I’ve come up with 114 keywords. All of them were approved and so far 2,077 has generated 8 clicks @ .05 per click.

        Not too bad, but I think I might have to bid higher to get more impressions. But I’ll let the current status quo run a bit longer before making any changes. I’ll definitely need much more data than this to get into the fun stuff like testing headlines and alternate covers.

        Thanks again for the post. Interesting, inspiring and actionable! 🙂

  • Christos Angelidakis

    Thank Dave and Michal for this eye-opening article! I believe that amazon ads is a good way to drive traffic to your books because people go to amazon to buy not to just search sth. I have to admit that I’ve been experimenting with amazon ads for about a week and have seen no results so far. I’ve tried many different keywords (ranging from 50-500 keywords) per campaign but get very few clicks. How important is the sales message that you write on your ad? Any tips or help would be highly appreciated!

    Dave a big praise for your amazing site! You provide tons of value! Thank you!

    • Christos, I wouldn’t have bothered with less than 300 keywords. At the beginning I tried to nwrrow down a perfect set of keywords… and Amazon still decided half of them irrelevant. So now I prefer “the shotgun approach”: I pick as many keywords as possible and some of them will reach the goal.
      I didn’t find the sales message very important. Of course you want to make it compelling not creepy, but this is marketing ABC that every author knows.

      • Christos Angelidakis

        Thanks for the info Michal! I will definitely try the “shotgun approach combined with the popular book keywords you mentioned in another comment! I really hope to get some results! Also I wanted to share a free tool that helps me a lot! It SEO stack keywords chrome plugin and you can find it here: http://tinyurl.com/hdnpjeo

        You put seed keywords and you get longtail amazon keywords! No volume but for volume you can use KDP rocket which rocks! It will give you a big longtail list to start with!

  • Hello Dave.

    Thanks for the sharing the valuable information with us. I’m planning to create my Blog “http://www.bestsmartphoneunder.com/” as affiliate marketing and your content is really going to help me. But If I got affiliated with Amazon, will I be turn as good source for me?

    Please express your views about it.

    Cheers…!

  • Scott

    I have found some success using KDP ads on Amazon.com, but I don’t know how to make the ads in any other country. Is it possible to do them in UK, or India, Australia or any other amazon page ?

  • Scott

    How many clicks per sales would you consider good ? I have approximately 15 clicks per sale, which seems like I should be able to get more sales for that 15 clicks and need to optimize my sales text or something

  • Scott

    This is repeating a comment from a couple of months ago I am still hoping to get feedback on, do you know how to make amazon ads in any country other than the U.S. ? I haven’t been able to figure it out

Follow More Kindlepreneur Action Here